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Types of Experience

Research Assistants 

A research assistantship is the most common type of experience undertaken by undergraduate students under the direct supervision of a faculty or research mentor. The type of experiences for a research assistant range may include one or a combination of the following: 

  • Laboratory research in the STEM fields
  • Field research in the natural and social sciences, and humanities
  • Data analysis in business
  • Text based research in the humanities
  • Creative projects in fine arts and humanities

There are numerous undergraduate academic programs with curricula which incorporate undergraduate research.

Independent Research, directed by faculty 

The Vanderbilt undergraduate curriculum offers numerous opportunities for students to engage in independent research. For example, many majors across the school and colleges involve independent research projects which include: 

  • Senior thesis
  • Honors thesis
  • Senior design projects

Summer Experiences 

It’s common for undergraduate research to take place over the summer, when the demand of the academic year has lightened. Though some students can conduct an entire research project in one summer, many students use summer research as an opportunity to continue research from the prior academic year or to begin a project that will continue into the next school year. There are numerous summer experiences at Vanderbilt including the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research ProgramVanderbilt Summer Science AcademyData Science Institute Summer Research Program, and the Vanderbilt School of Engineering Summer Program. Additional programs are listed here. In these programs, students are generally provided stipends for living expenses and generally work on research for ten weeks at a time, working full time at forty hours per week. In addition to these programs, other summer research opportunities are plentiful.